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Photoplay Editions: A forgotten generation of movie tie-ins and novelizations


 
Everyone loves paperback movie tie-in novels. If you don’t, you really should. From their accessible prices and lurid covers to their not-always-screen-accurate content, this literary genre has provided joy for its fans for many decades. Reaching its peak in the 1970s as mass-market paperbacks along with genre novels of the romance, horror and sci-fi variety, the popular conception of media tie-in literature has been that it belongs to the more contemporary era of film and television work. Pop culture fandoms and collector advocacy have accelerated the idea that film novelizations are a recent phenomenon. Due to the observable vividness of their covers and the familiarity (or fucked-up bizarreness) of many of their titles,  the movie tie-in paperbacks published from the 1950s onwards have become the standard by which we define the “movie novelization” or “movie tie-in” paperback.

A few useful definitions: a novelization is a book based on a cinematic property. The writer uses an early version of the script or screenplay and, like movie tie-ins, these works are active parts of the film’s marketing. Tie-in novels are re-publications of previously written literary properties that films have adapted but with a “tie-in” feature to the upcoming movie. This could be a new title, a star on the book cover, etc. If a studio has changed the name of said book, the tie-in will carry the new name, not the original literary title (although the original name might be there as a “formerly known as”). A tie-in will also refer to books written after a film’s release in order to continue making money off the film property but have no connection to previously written literature. Both novelizations and tie-ins are pretty interesting. Obviously, some are more faithful to the, uh, original material than others. 

Novelizations and tie-in paperbacks are still some of the most widely available of such items due to their large publication runs. You could buy them anywhere, put them in your back pocket, and they were cheap (in quality and in price). These titles, from the most cultish to the most famous, are the most talked about, well-known and collected movie-related books. Some of the older titles have even been reprinted. But these works were not the first in movie tie-in history. For that, you’ll have to start in the silent film era.

From the 1910s into the 1940s, Grosset & Dunlap and A.L. Burt were two of the main publishers of what are known as Photoplay Editions. This title came, of course, from the fact that they were designed to be released in tandem with the photoplays (aka films) that they were connected with. Yes, these were the first novelizations and movie tie-ins. These hardcover volumes had a similarity to their paperback brethren: they were rather plain on the inside. There was no gilding, no special binding, no ribbon bookmarks or dignified artwork, unlike many books of the time. On the other hand, they did include pictures from the film!!! Cool, right? These books were a brilliant marketing concept and the money the publishers saved on the fancy binding and silk endpapers? That got spent on the MIND BLOWING book jacket art.
 

 

 
The most incredible part of these Photoplay Editions is that many still exist whereas the actual films they were promoting are considered lost. As a film archivist, I get the same tired jokes about finding Tod Browning’s London After Midnight (1927) all the time. Look, if it happens? You’ll be the first to know. But it won’t. The closest we may get is the beautiful Photoplay Edition that was released in conjunction with the film. And London isn’t the only lost film that we still have the book for. Murnau’s Four Devils (1928) also exists. And many more. Photoplay Editions are a virtual treasure trove- for movie tie-in fans, for film nerds, for art lovers. Enjoy these images!
 

 

 
More movie tie-ins and novelizations, after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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01.16.2018
04:29 pm
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Metal vs History: Napalm Death gig cancelled over fears it could destroy museum

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I shit you not. Via Sky News:

A performance by “grindcore” band Napalm Death has been cancelled by the V&A [the Victoria & Albert Museum, London] after fears the deafening noise could cause the historic museum to crumble.

The metal-punk act had been due to play a one-off show on Friday after teaming up with a ceramic artist who created a sound system which was designed to disintegrate during the gig.

But the London museum called off the free event, called Bustleholm, after a safety check highlighted a risk that the gallery itself could deteriorate.

WOW! Napalm Death playing through a disintegrating soundsystem in a potentially collapsing museum?! Dethklok eat your heart out!

Just one word for you, though, V&A Museum: BOOOO!

Here’s a taste of what this concert could have sounded like, minus the imploding PA and collapsing historical buildings.

Napalm Death, live at Hellfest 2012:
 

 
Thanks to Stephen Macfarlane.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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03.20.2013
08:02 pm
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140 years of black gay male couples in photos
01.13.2012
10:19 pm
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After Monday’s post about Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of NYC, here are pictures that delve even further into the often under-acknowledged history of gay men within the black community. Historian Trent Kelley has been collecting these photos - which span the last 140 years and mostly (but not exclusively) feature gay men - and has put them online for people to see on his Climbing Kilimanjaro Flickr account. Via Colorlines.com, Kelley says:

Afro American gay men are ignored into nonexistence in parts of black culture and are basically second class citizens in gay culture. The black church which has historically played a fundamental role in protesting against civil injustices toward its parishioners has been want to deny its gay members their right to live a life free and open without prejudice. Despite public projections of a “rainbow” community living together in harmonious co-habitation, openly active and passive prejudices exist in the larger gay community against gay Afro Americans.

 
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These make for some beautiful and touching pictures. See more here.

Thanks to Chloe Cousins.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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01.13.2012
10:19 pm
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The story of The Beatles as told by a 4-year-old

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For just this once I’m going to break my long-standing Beatles veto. I really didn’t think the world needed yet another Beatles blog post, but then this is just so ridiculously adorable it had to go up. Not only that it’s factually accurate!  I’m pretty certain not many four-year-olds are aware that Ringo was not the original Beatles drummer:

 
With thanks to Wallace Wylie!

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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12.08.2011
10:25 am
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Splendid documentary on John Waters, from 1988
08.24.2011
06:46 pm
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There’s a line by Neil Innes, which Richard likes to quote:

There are no coincidences, but sometimes the pattern

is

more obvious.

It’s from “Keynsham” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, who were on here recently, and well, there’s just something in the air as here’s another fine documentary from Jonathan Ross, this one from 1988, when he interviewed the “Pope of Trash”, the “Anal Anarchist”, the “Ayatollah of Crud”, the fabulous Mr. John Waters.

Shown as part of Ross’s series The Incredibly Strange Film Show, and recorded not long after Waters’ co-conspirator Divine died, this superb documentary contains one of the best and most revealing interviews Waters has ever given.

Starting with the opening of Hairspray in Baltimore 1988, with interviews from key Dreamlanders, a chewy selection choice clips, background skinny and some fabulous archive.

And what can we learn from this all? As Waters explains, without Divine there would be no John Waters’ films, for Divine represented the rebel who could win. Nice, but that’s a line which is also true of Mr Waters - for he is the rebel who won.
 

 
More from the fabulous Mr waters, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.24.2011
06:46 pm
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‘1-2 FU’: A personal odyssey through British Punk Rock

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I first met Peter Boyd Maclean about twenty years ago, when he was about 12, or so it seemed, as he was precociously young and at the same time incredibly wise, and most annoyingly Talented with a capital ‘T’. He had arrived from the ether to work at the Beeb as a top director / producer, having made a splash on that TV earthquake known as Network 7. He was funny, witty and always made work fun. I recall at the time Peter had just “Shot the shit” out of some island to placate his over-zealous exec, who repeatedly demanded “Pictures! Coverage! More pictures! More coverage!” every 10 minutes by ‘phone, fax and pigeon post. Since then m’colleague, has gone on to greater achievements and awards and hairstyles of interesting description.

He also made this rather super documentary on Punk, 1-2 FU with Jonathan Ross taking a personal odyssey through the music of his youth. It’s quirky, orignal, and has an impressive line-up of the punk bands who most effected the TV showman, including Steven Severin, Ari Up, The Damned, Adam Ant, etc. Like the best of Peter’s work, F-U 12 takes an original approach to a subject, rather than the usually biblical reverence of “In the beginning was Punk and the Punk was with…” etc. Of particular note here, is Jonathan’s bus tour of London’s punk clubs, and his rendition (as in torture) of “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Now here’s more of the same from the official blurb:

1-2 FU

Jonathan Ross presents the ‘Memoirs of a Middle-Aged Punk’ in this authored documentary charting the rise and demise of the most nihilistic movement in the history of British music.

Jonathan delivers a fast and furious rant confessing his passion for punk and the lasting effect it’s had on everything, from music and fashion to art and television.

As a forty-something whose life has been defined by punk and all the anarchy it stood for, Jonathan sets out to discover if punk really changed the world or was it all overblown hype?

To fully explore the legacy of punk, Jonathan gets a Mohican and grabs Captain Sensible to join him as he transports an open-top bus full of punks on a tour around London’s most notorious punk hotspots.

Finally, it’s Jonathan Ross as you’ve never seen him before when he fulfils his ultimate punk fantasy performing with Vic Reeves as The Fat Punks for one night only.

 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.23.2011
05:10 pm
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Ken Russell’s early documentary: ‘A House in Bayswater’

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During the 1960s Ken Russell flourished as a director of television documentaries for the BBC. Single-handedly he advanced the genre, creating a hybrid form of drama-documentary—the biopic. This was first seen in his remarkable film on Elgar in 1962—which was later voted the best single documentary of the decade. In collaboration with a young Melvyn Bragg—who acted as screenwriter—he produced The Debussy Film starring Oliver Reed in 1965—which is arguably the single most influential drama-doc of the past 50 years as it reinvented the drama doc as a film within a film—a template later copied,developed and stolen from by innumerable filmmakers. Then came the the understated film on Delius Song of Summer in 1968, before finally and most controversially making his farewell film for the BBC Dance of the Seven Veils A Comic Strip in Seven Episodes on the life of Richard Strauss 1864-1949. Russell’s film infamously depicted the German composer of “Also Sprach Zarathustra” as a Nazi, which outraged critics, lead to questions being raised in the British Parliament, and was eventually banned.

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A young Ken Russell on the balcony of his apartment in Bayswater, late 1959s.

Russell’s visually brilliant and intuitive style of film-making was a long way from the kind of straight documentaries made by his contemporaries—including John Schlesinger, whom he had replaced at the BBC. Then ‘biography’, as Joseph Lanza explained in Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films, was:

...more like strict documentary. There was no place for metaphors or speculative drama. The network’s purists felt such tactics were synonymous with the kinds of exaggeration [the Futurist artist] Henri Gaudier championed and that Russell longed to create. So Russell kept a humble exterior while secretly plotting to subvert the BBC’s codes of propriety.

“Ken was different in every way from what he is now,” Russell’s BBC boss Huw Wheldon reflected in the early 1970s on working with Russell in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. “To start with, he was virtually wordless. He was shy and quiet. Quiet in every way: his clothes, his haircut, his countenance. A little watchful, but silent and completely modest. I couldn’t make head nor tail of him, partly because he wouldn’t help me. He didn’t say anything. He just looked at me.”

Russell’s first short film for the BBC’s Monitor series was Poet’s London - an effective evocation of John Betjeman’s poetry. This was quickly followed by Guitar Crazy on the rise of guitar music; Portrait of a Goon, a look acclaimed comic and scriptwriter, Spike Milligan; and a profile of dance legend, Marie Rambert and her ballet company. Then in 1960, during a summer break from the series, Russell wrote, directed and produced his first full-length documentary film, A House in Bayswater.

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A scene from ‘A House in Bayswater.’

In An Appalling Talent - Ken Russell, film writer and critic, John Baxter described Russell’s film as ‘...ostensibly a protest at the razing of tall old buildings to make way for office blocks…’

‘Beginning as a systematic representation of Bayswater as a hive of creative activity - his chosen terrace houses a painter, a photographer, a ballet dancer and ex-pupil of Pavlova, a retired lady’s maid who pines for the affluent USA of the Twenties, and an odd but lively landlady - the film changes tone as both artists reveal themselves as tedious poseurs, and Russell’s sympathy swings towards the old people, sustained and enriched by the past. The dancer, leading her willing, wispy pupil through a two-woman show hazed in memoriesof better days (“My next solo is one I did on Broadway in 1929 and I am wearing the same costume”) is faded but not absurd, the maid’s images of New York have the insouciant fever of Scott Fitzgerald, and the concierge who sells her junk to the photographer for props, offers bumpers of sherry as rent receipts and cultivates toadstools and deadly nightshade in the garden with a philosophical “They might come in useful” celebrates the indestructible eccentric. The last Cocteauesque image, of the dancer and her little pupil battling in slow motion against a windy torrent of streamers and balloons (to be recalled in the 1812 episode of The Music Lovers) holds the promise of immortality for all those who survive and, above all, keep faith.’

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Russell at the Steenbeck with legendary BBC producer Huw Wheldon looking over his shoulder.

A House in Bayswater is a beautiful piece of documentary-making, which slowly develops towards a memorable finish. What isn’t revealed is that the fact this was this house in Bayswater was Ken Russell’s home during the 1950s.

I have lived most of my life in rooming houses, and shared apartments, and run-down hotels, where there is great comfort in anonymity and company amongst strangers, and understand Russell’s nostalgia for a life that is being slowly removed, as cities are carelessly gentrified. Watching it in the month when New York’s Chelsea Hotel announced its demise, only reinforced how much of our shared environment is now monetized for the benefit of a few. This is apparent in Russell’s film, as the film details the lives and hopes of the tenants, connected by a house that was planned for demolition—to be replaced “by a soulless office block. Thankfully, this never happened and the house stands to this day.”
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

The Book, The Sculptor, His Life & Ken Russell


Ken Russell’s banned film: ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’


Ken Russell on Antonio Gaudi


 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.21.2011
05:24 pm
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Creepy taxidermy: Potter’s Museum of Curiosities
08.20.2011
11:53 am
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Norman Bates would be proud - the Potter’s Museum of Curiosities, in Bramber, Sussex, where stuffed animals were dressed in costumes and posed in recognizably human settings - at school, sharing a tea party, drinking in a bar. Established in Victorian England, the museum was the idea of Walter Potter, an amateur taxidermist, whose anthropomorphic dioramas were considered typical of Victorian whimsy, and proved so popular with the public during the 1800s that the platform at Bramber railway station had to be extended to accommodate the extra carriages, which brought crowds of day-trippers to see the exhibits.

Born in 1835, Potter’s first attempt at taxidermy was his pet canary. At the age of 19, inspired by a book of nursery poems, Potter created The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, a diorama consisting of 98 species of British birds, which would become the centerpiece of his museum.

The museum had over 10,000 stuffed animals and included tableaux of:

“...a rats’ den being raided by the local police rats ... [a] village school ... featuring 48 little rabbits busy writing on tiny slates, while the Kittens’ Tea Party displayed feline etiquette and a game of croquet. A guinea pigs’ cricket match was in progress, and 20 kittens attended a wedding, wearing little morning suits or brocade dresses, with a feline vicar in white surplice. The kittens even wear frilly knickers under their formal attire!”

The museum closed in the 1970s, relocated and briefly re-opened at the Jamaica Inn, Bodmin Moor, in 1984, where it attracted over 30,000 visitors a year. Then in 2003, the exhibits were put up for auction. The artist Damien Hirst offered to buy the complete collection for £1million, but auctioneers Bonhams sold each piece individually, raising only £500,000. Amongst the buyers were Pop Artist Peter Blake, photographer David Bailey, and comedian Harry Hill. At the time, Hirst wrote in the Guardian:

“Mr Potter’s Museum of Curiosities at Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor is a fantastic Victorian-Edwardian collection of stuffed animals and curios. There are hundreds of items, all collected or devised by the original Mr Potter, who was a self-taught taxidermist. You can see he knew very little about anatomy and musculature, because some of the taxidermy is terrible - there’s a kingfisher that looks nothing like a kingfisher. But there’s some great stuff in there, too - two-headed goats, a rhino’s head, a mummified human hand. As an ensemble, it’s just mad.

“My own favourites are these tableaux: there’s a kittens’ wedding party, with all these kittens dressed up in costumes, even wearing jewellery. The kittens don’t look much like kittens, but that’s not the point. There’s a rats’ drinking party, too - which puts a different construction on Wind in the Willows. And a group of hamsters playing cricket.

“I’ve offered £1m and to pay for the cost of the auctioneer’s catalogue – just for them to take it off the market and keep the collection intact – but apparently, the auction has to go ahead. It is a tragedy.”

Last year, a one-off exhibition was co-curated by Peter Blake, who brought Potter’s curios together at the Museum of Everything in Primrose Hill, London.

It should be noted that Potter’s museum claimed all “animals died of natural causes.”

The following film was produced by British Pathe in 1965, and describes Potter as “a genius who made fur-lined dolls into whimsical but veritable works of poetic art.” A fabulous selection of photographs from Blake’s Museum of Everything, taken by Marc Hill, can be found on the Daily Telegraph website.
 

 
With thanks to Steve Duffy
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.20.2011
11:53 am
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Slade: Proto Punk Heroes of Glam Rock

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Slade never looked cool, but that wasn’t the point. They were four young lads out for a good time, and they wanted you to have a good time too. You can hear it on their classic album Slade Alive, when lead singer, Noddy Holder encourages everyone to get up, get ripping and really let themselves go. And during the 1970s, that’s just what their fans did.

Slade were Noddy Holder, Jimmy lea, Don Powell and the sequined Dave (“You write ‘em I’ll sell ‘em”) Hill. Between 1970 and 1975, they sold over 6.5 million records in the UK alone, chalking up 6 number ones, 3 of which went straight to the top of the charts - a feat not achieved since The Beatles - and this at a time of 3-day weeks, power cuts and food shortages.

For their energy, dynamism and 4-chord songs, Slade were more of an influence on Punk than Iggy and The Stooges. Just listen to the opening riff for “Cum on Feel the Noize”, it sounds like the start of a Sex Pistols track. Or try “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. As latter-day Mod-Father and frontman for The Jam, Paul Weller noted:

“The whole punk rock thing really happened because of bands such as Slade and the like; rock bands that wouldn’t back off.”

Then there’s Noddy Holder, who may have looked like a grown-up Artful Dodger, but had a brilliant and unmistakable voice, which inspired Joey Ramone:

“I spent most of the early 70s listening to Slade Alive thinking to myself, ‘Wow - this is what I want to do. I want to make that kind of intensity for myself.’ A couple of years later I found myself at CBGB’s doing my best Noddy Holder.”

The tags were all there: Slade’s first single was produced by Kim Fowley; their manager, was ex-Animal, Chas Chandler, who had managed Jimi Hendrix; and their writing partnership of Holder and Lea was compared to the greats who’d gone before, one of which, Paul McCartney saw the future of pop divided between Slade and T.Rex, just like The Beatles and The Stones.

It should have been, but in 1973, drummer Don Powell was seriously injured in a car crash that tragically killed his girlfriend. Slade nearly split. Then, there was their film Flame, not a mop-top romp, but a long-hard look at the music business - it alienated fans though is now considered the “Citizen Kane of rock musicals”. Then, in a bid to conquer America, they spent 2 years Stateside, when Slade returned to the UK, Punk had taken over, and they were “old farts”, even though the Pistols’ Steve Jones thought that:

“Slade never compromised. We always had the feeling that they were on our side. I don’t know but I think we were right.”

It’s Slade is a well-deserved and refreshing reassessment of one Britain’s greatly under-rated bands, with excellent archive and contributions from Slade, Ozzy Osbourne, Toyah Wilcox and Noel Gallagher.
 

 
The rest of ‘It’s Slade’, plus bonus clips, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.17.2011
07:42 pm
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‘Lost’ Press Video for The Smiths, 1992
08.17.2011
03:58 pm
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Those darlings at Rhino UK have uncovered this little gem of a “lost” press video for The Smiths, commissioned in 1992 to coincide with the release of their Best… albums.
 

 
With thanks to Nerdcore
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.17.2011
03:58 pm
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Neil Young busking in Glasgow 1976
08.12.2011
08:02 pm
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Hoots mon! Rare film of Neil Young busking in Glasgow city center, April 1 1976, prior to headlining at the city’s legendary Apollo Theater later that night.

Mr Young performed outside Glasgow’s Central Station, on Gordon Street, where he sang “Old Laughing Lady”. Because of the date - All Fool’s Day - it has been suggested that Mr Young was carrying out his own practical joke for the benefit of those lucky denizens of the Dear Green Place.
 

 
With thanks to Neil McDonald
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.12.2011
08:02 pm
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Backstage footage of the Rolling Stones: Hampton Coliseum, VA, 1981

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Video filmed backstage at a Rolling Stones concert, from the Hampton Coliseum, Virginia, in 1981.

Alway wanted to know about the backstage antics???
Here’s your chance to be with the Stones before they go on stage.
I guess the routine of touring has gotten to the point of ...well this!
Warming the crowd before they go on is George Thorogood & the Destroyers, on stage in the background.

Your Backstage pass says “ALL ACCESS”.
Please follow through this door and onto your left!

Taken from the December 18 performance, this was broadcast as The World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll Party on pay-per-view and in closed circuit cinemas - the first use of pay-per-view for a music event.

It’s interesting footage, inasmuch as it belies the backstage tales of excess most associated with the “World’s Greatest Rock’n’Roll” band.
 

 
With thanks to Vince Giracello
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.12.2011
07:38 pm
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Rare recording of Kenneth Williams reading Gogol’s ‘Diary of a Madman’, 1963

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Here is a rare and rather wonderful piece of Kenneth Williams’ archive: his brilliant interpretation of Nikolai Gogol’s farcical short story Diary of a Madman .

In 1963, Kenneth Williams agreed to narrate an animated version of Gogol’s Diary of a Madman for film-maker Richard Williams. The pair had previously worked together on the short cartoon Love Me Love Me. According to the splendid biography Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams by Christopher Stevens:

Gogol’s story gave lunatic scope to [Kenneth] Williams’s voices. It told of a lonely clerk, who is driven out of his wits by unrequited love until he succumbs to delusions that, as the uncrowned king of Spain, he is spied upon by talking dogs.

In a recording session that stretched for more than six hours without a break, Williams read from the clerk’s diary in a halting voice, like a man on a window-ledge who cannot will himself to suicide. Other personalities pierced the reading - the sadism of the office supervisor, the contempt of the boss’s daughter, the shrill proclamations of King Ferdinand VIII. ‘I was pretty hard on him, and made him read passages again and again to get the right effect. It freaked him out,’ Richard Williams recalled. ‘At one point he walked out of the studio and I had to run after him. It was a block and a half before I caught up and persuaded him to come back.’ Full of repetition and bitter nonsense, the piece is almost nauseating as the clerk slops and flounders towards insanity. While no recordings exist of Williams in his most unsettling stage roles, Diary of a Madman is proof of his merciless gift for sustained, upsetting performance.

Sadly the animation was never completed, but this incredible recording was later re-edited by the BBC and broadcast on Radio 4 in 1991.

Dramatization by James Burke
Music by Peter Shade
Directed by Richard Williams
Produced by Ned Chaillet
Re-mixed for radio by John Whitehall
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds

Kenneth Williams: Stop Messin’ About


 
Bonus - Kenneth Williams reads a classic ‘Just William’ tale, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.08.2011
06:42 pm
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A Brief History of Recent Pop Culture as told through Photographs of Alice Cooper and Friends

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A brief history of recent pop culture, as told through various photographs of Alice Cooper and Friends.
 
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Marxism: Alice and Groucho.
 
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The Super Group: Alice, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Marc Bolan, 1973.
 
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Surrealism: Alice and Salvador Dali.
 
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Popism: Alice, Ray Manzarek, and Iggy.
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
When Alice Cooper met Colonel Sanders
 
Culled from various but special thanks to This Is Not Porn
 
More photo-history with Alice plus bonus clip, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.05.2011
11:41 am
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Superb documentary series: ‘Reggae - The History of Jamaican Music’

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If you love Reggae, if you love music, then you’ll love this excellent 3-part documentary - Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. Originally shown on the BBC in 2002, parts of this documentary have been on YouTube over the years, but now some kind soul has uploaded the whole series for our delight. How wonderful. Enjoy.
 

 
Parts 2 & 3, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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08.03.2011
07:20 pm
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